Hug for Little Dog
LITTLE DOG ADOPTS US
The cold, damp, wind that blew rainy slush against my face startled me. I quickly reached my kitten-filled hand down, deposited the kitten on the stoop and drew myself back in.
As I shut the door against this onslaught I saw small the white paws of the kitten, which barely reached up to the door’s screen inset. The face looking up at me had a pathetic, yearning, abandoned look in the eyes. The orange teardrop shape under the kitten’s right eye cemented the pathos.
The tiny white cat with orange and black calico markings splashed over its back, with a calico tail that looked like an afterthought, was a stray cat on the property of the apartment building my husband Monte built many years ago outside of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, a two-hour drive from the community where we retired. One apartment was empty, and we were there to clean it up and re-lease it. The kitten showed up while we were unpacking.
One tenant I’ll call Annie told us that the kitten had been hanging around since July. This was two weeks before Christmas. Annie said the kitten had birthed a litter of three kittens which she believed a wild animal did harm to. She believed its belly held another litter.
Annie hadn’t fed it until recently, then only once, out of sympathy due to the winter harsh weather.
The kitten was friendly to children, and her grandchild loved it.
My sympathies went to the kitten immediately. She looked like Shenan(doah), The Cat with the Calico Tail, a cat we had previously claimed from a nearby farmer when we returned from Atlanta in 1985. It too was mostly white with a calico tail that looked like it was stuck on as an afterthought. I figured they were from the same family line.
I snuck the cat into the apartment during the day, and she snuggled against me when I was seated or taking a nap. Her loud purr was soothing as I rested. Annie provided food for her.
Monte and I had avoided having a pet since the death of Honey, the cat we inherited from our daughter when we retired.
It was much easier to travel when we didn’t have to wonder how our pets would be cared for while we were away from home. Like this trip, which we expected to last for more than a week. It was just before Christmas, a bad time to be away from home. Even though the kitten and I quickly bonded I had no intention of taking on the responsibilities an animal.
We also weren’t prepared to have a pet in this apartment. We had no litter so it couldn’t stay inside the apartment at night.
Her sad look the night I put her out into the bitter pre-Christmas weather sealed her fate. As far as I was concerned she was going home with us when we left. Monte took a while longer, but soon his objections to keeping her faded.
We discussed a name, but as always, had a difficult time. Meanwhile, he kept referring to her as Little Dog. I once gave him a sweatshirt with a picture of our then-cats with a caption A cat is not a dog. You’d think a physicist turned pastor would know the difference between the two family pets.
He agreed to my purchasing a collar and leash.
Finally, after not agreeing on a name, I threw my arms up and said “You keep calling her Little Dog. I guess that will be her name.”
As I was packing to leave the apartment I glanced at my open suitcase to see Little Dog climbing into it. After a while she was curled up and sleeping.
Her message was clear: I intend to leave with you for adventures unknown.
I buckled Little Dog’s collar on her neck, attached the leash, and carried her to the car. As Monte started the car she was a little restless, but it didn’t take long for her to be wrapped over one of my legs, where she remained, sleeping until we reached our destination.
We stopped to get litter so she wouldn’t have to go outside immediately. After all, we didn’t know for certain she was pregnant, as we had been informed, and if she wasn’t we didn’t want her to be. Also, by the time we arrived home there was snow on the ground, and I felt she needed to be outside without snow to get her bearings, before being allowed to run free. She was to be, temporarily, an indoor cat.
Little did we know the fun that was to come.
We arrived home with a still-sleeping kitten. Waking her up, we introduced her to the bathroom of her new abode, shutting her in until we unloaded the car. When done we let her into the house to explore her new home.
It was Christmas, and I put our tree up. She found the lower ornaments attractive, I soon found some on the floor.
My son Nolan, his wife Tammy, their two children and a young man visiting from Germany were soon here. They did well with Little Dog, a new attraction at Grandma’s house.
Keeping her inside was a challenge we would have to meet until the vet spayed her. When the snow gave way to muddy tracks in the driveway I walked her outside on a leash to familiarize her with the outside of her new home.
I start my mornings with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. One morning, as I read it, Little Dog ran from across the room, jumped into the newspaper, and slammed it into my face, a trick she seemed to enjoy at least once each morning from then on.
The morning came when she began howling.
“It’s OK,” I told her, running my hand down her smooth back. “This is your home now.”
But she kept up the howling. She howled all day, and into the night. It was constant—noisy, mournful, demanding. I finally figured out the problem: she was in heat.
“Well, at least she’s not having kittens,” I told Monte.
I called the vet. Her secretary asked me many questions about the kitten before coming to her last question.
“What is the cat’s name?”
“Little Dog,” I said.
“I thought you said you had a cat.”
“I do. Her name is Little Dog.”
I explained about my husband. She laughed.
Her “in heat” cycle lasted a month, although it seemed like forever that Monte and I went through her torture. Finally, she was spayed and happy she could go outside.
She’s been with us almost 18 months and has proven to be a loving pet. She’s been joined by King, another cat who adopted us. You’ll hear more about them in later posts, I’m certain.